Chicken Parmesan is my absolute favorite meal. While growing up I got to pick my birthday meal and chicken parm was my choice every single year. I never grow tired of it. It is perfection. Juicy chicken wrapped in crispy breading all smothered in rich marinara sauce and drenched with melty cheese – oh I love it. I’m not a fan of the preparation however. If only it was my birthday every day so my mom would make it for me all the time…in her kitchen. I hate that Chicken Parmesan destroys every counter I own and dirties a full load of dishes. All the pans for egg wash, flour and breadcrumbs. Not to mention the frying which in inevitably splatters grease on whatever brand new favorite shirt I’m wearing. How I forget to put an apron on EVERY TIME is beyond me.
When I first saw this recipe, I was skeptical. How on earth could a casserole type baked dish produce the crisp breaded goodness of my favorite dinner? How? I pictured a soggy yucky mess. Breadcrumbs turned into a goopy pile. *shudder* Then, I read the secret ingredient. Croutons. Oh genius chef who thought of that, you have my devotion forever.
My joy and elation is tempered by a huge problem with this recipe. It is so incredibly easy, and amazingly good that I already want to make it again. My oven isn’t even cool yet and I’m dreaming of the next time I can eat this. It took less than 10 minutes to throw together, used one dish (ONE!) and is every bit as delicious as the full-fledged tornado in the kitchen that is Chicken Parmesan. I’m trying to convince myself that since it’s baked, I can get away with eating it more frequently than its fried inspiration – but the convincing was not going well until I actually did a calorie calculator. Under 400 calories per serving. Oh baby. This just became my favorite meal.
A quick photo spread of the dish coming together. It is really just a dump it all in the pan meal. Layer chicken on top of garlicy olive oil. Then marinara, fresh basil, two cheeses, croutons (genius) and more cheese.
I almost started singing when this came out of the oven all golden and cheesy. The smell overwhelmingly perfect. Like your kitchen has transformed into the best Italian restaurant you’ve ever been to. Make this. Immediately. It is glorious. The croutons stay crisp and perfectly toasted on top, but infuse with the flavor of garlic, basil and marinara on the bottom. The chicken is moist and delicious, coated with saucy cheesy goodness. You will love it.
Chicken Parmesan Bake
adapted from Food Wishes
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts (24 ounces of chicken)
2 cups marinara sauce
1/4 cup chopped basil
8 oz mozzarella, shredded
4 oz Parmesan, grated
1 (5-oz) package garlic croutons
Pour olive oil into the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish. Crush garlic and swoosh around in the oil until the bottom of the pan is completely covered.
Lay chicken breasts on top of the garlicy olive oil. Season with pepper and italian seasoning (or you could use red pepper flakes if you like a little kick)
Pour marinara sauce on top of chicken and coat evenly.
Chop basil and sprinkle over marinara sauce.
Sprinkle 1/2 of the mozzarella and 1/2 of the Parmesan cheese over the marinara/basil.
Dump croutons in a single layer on top of cheeses and top with remaining cheeses.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 35-55 minutes (depending on the size of your chicken breasts). Until thermometer reads 155 when inserted into chicken. Allow to rest 5-10 minutes.